Photo: In this 2013 photo, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, right, visits with a Ketura Kibbutz official at the solar farm in Arava Valley. U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/Flickr
After years of delays, Israel’s 134-acre Ketura Sun solar plant finally came online at the end of July. In a place called the “startup nation” by Slate’s Daniel Gross, that lag might come as a surprise, but when you consider Israel’s nationalized utility ownership, slow-moving bureaucracy and volatile political landscape, it begins to make sense. According to Gross, it was another Israeli social construct that provided the momentum to build the plant—the kibbutz.
Kibbutz means “group” in Hebrew. It’s a movement that started in the early 1900s, when agriculturalists sought to collectively build a new type of community. A kibbutz emphasizes community—its members stand on equal footing—and it is non-competitive. Each kibbutz shares the goal of creating a socially independent society.
A kibbutz-run company is behind this solar plant and has many more planned for Israel’s deserts. This article is a clear example of how changemakers can harness their culture’s institutions, habits and traditions to create innovations.